Welcome to SEC Country’s daily Auburn Tigers football recruiting notebook with Auburn recruiting beat writer Benjamin Wolk. It’s Sunday, and SEC Country has a thorough update on top defensive end Curtis Fann. Also, there were two big-time visitors over the weekend.
Top Georgia DE target details relationship with Auburn DC
When South Carolina kicked off Curtis Fann’s recruitment a year ago, it didn’t take long for Auburn to follow suit.
Almost a year ago to the day — May 16, 2017, to be exact — the 4-star defensive lineman received his first college offer from South Carolina. The Gamecocks have been a perceived favorite since that point, especially since Fann’s 2-hour proximity from Columbia, S.C., makes regular visits easy. But 24 hours after that South Carolina offer, another meaningful SEC offer came his way from Auburn defensive coordinator Kevin Steele.
The relationship between those two has blossomed ever since. It makes the Tigers a contender in this recruitment.
“Remember how I said South Carolina was my first offer? Coach Steele, after I got that one, he contacted me like the next day. They offered me the very next day,” Fann told SEC Country. “Auburn was the third offer. Ever since then, Coach Steele, me and him, we’ve just had a real, real strong relationship. That’s been for like a year now. That relationship is real strong.”
In all, Fann has visited Auburn three times — once this spring for a junior day. It’s not as easy for him to visit the Plains as it is South Carolina, but he plans on changing that soon. Fann wanted to make it for Big Cat Weekend, but he scheduled a Louisville official visit from May 30-June 2 which will likely conflict with that.
He plans to be back at Auburn shortly after that, however. Fann hasn’t visited Auburn as regularly as he has South Carolina, but he said that shouldn’t be seen as an indication of his interest in the Tigers compared to the Gamecocks. It’s just a more convenient trip to Columbia, S.C.
That may be one factor working slightly against Auburn, but there’s another one working strongly in the Tigers favor — defensive line coach Rodney Garner
“In my opinion, they’ve got one of the best defensive line coaches in the country. So I feel like, if I went there, I know for a fact I’d be developed as a defensive linemen,” Fann said. “We talk a lot. When I went up there last summer, we spent the whole day together. Then he came to my school last week. He couldn’t talk to me, but he talked to my coaches. I talk to him a lot. He’s real cool.”
At camps, the 6-foot-2 standout from Stillmore, Ga., tries his hand at defensive tackle and defensive end. Many college coaching staffs want to bring him in as a hybrid who could play both. Others even want him to step out of his comfort zone as a stand-up edge rusher.
Steele and Garner have told Fann they want him as a hand-in-the-dirt defensive end, similar to Marlon Davidson’s role in the defense.
“You know, they’re losing five defensive linemen. He wants me to come in and be the next All-American that they have,” Fann said.
Fann also has a connection to a few Auburn commits. He perked up at the question about some recent recruiting buzz for the Tigers with guys such as Owen Pappoe and Jaylin Simpson — two good friends of Fann — committing recently. Fann made it clear his decision is his own decision and was, more or less, unchanged by their announcements.
Still, it strengthens his desire to visit.
“I wouldn’t say it really affected me. I’m happy for them, but this is my decision, so I don’t really let that affect me, but …” Fann said, pausing for a few seconds. “I do need to get down there again because those are my homies.”
Other schools to watch out for with Curtis Fann
Curtis Fann wants to make one point about his recruitment publicly known.
“No, I ain’t got a leader,” he said.
South Carolina, for reasons laid out above, had been perceived to hold that title. That type of talk has never come directly from Fann, however. He doesn’t downplay his interest in South Carolina. He’s open about his appreciation for them on Twitter, and as listed above, visits often.
But for the time being, Fann considers programs such as South Carolina, Auburn, Florida State, Louisville, Notre Dame and LSU on a level playing field. Fann said Florida State and South Carolina are recruiting him harder than anyone else at this stage of his recruitment. He’ll take an official visit to Louisville in two weeks.
Here’s what Fann has to say about those schools specifically:
- South Carolina: They offered me first. Our relationship has always been good. It’s 2 hours away from house, not far at all. That’s why I go so much. They offered me last year. It’s Coach [Will] Muschamp and [offensive coordinator] Coach [Bryan] McClendon. They need me. They want me. Coach Muschamp says he’s not going to take no for an answer.
- Florida State: I talk with almost all the coaches, but I’d say I talk with [defensive ends] Coach [Mark] Snyder and [defensive tackles] Coach [Odell] Haggins the most. I just feel at home when I got there. All the coaches just make me feel comfortable, and I can talk to them about whatever.
- Louisville: “It’s my first official visit. I’m looking forward to a lot of things. Going far off like that, I want to see how that feels. Their defensive coordinator (Brian VanGorder) is really experienced. I look at his track record, and I can tell how he’s building everything. I want to go up there and learn more about that. I know I’ll like it, but I want to go up and see how it feels.”
When Fann visits these schools — and Auburn — he has specific criteria in mind.
“I want to know they’re going to develop me right for the next level because that’s my ultimate goal. I don’t want to be around someone I feel like I can’t trust or talk to about everything. I need like a family away from home — and somewhere I know I can be successful at,” Fann said.
Fann hasn’t set a specific commitment date, and he’s not sure if he will. He admits his mind can change quickly, so he doesn’t want to set something up and then have second guesses. Fann also said he’s not trying to de-commit throughout the process, so he’ll wait until he’s ready.
Fann did say, however, that when he “gets that feeling,” he’ll know.
Auburn hosts 2 visitors ranked inside top 100
Auburn’s heater on the recruiting trail isn’t lost on other highly rated recruits.
The Tigers hosted top players ranked inside the top 100 over the weekend.
Georgia linebacker commit Trezmen Marshall made his first known visit to Auburn. That’s a large development. Marshall committed to the Bulldogs the Friday before Pappoe chose the Tigers.
I bring that up because Marshall and Pappoe have a relationship worth noting.
Until Pappoe’s commitment, there wasn’t any communication between Marshall and Auburn. The nation’s No. 98 overall prospect made a gentleman’s agreement with Pappoe that the two would officially visit each other’s school before signing. That greatly assists Auburn since Pappoe was already likely to officially visit Georgia and Marshall had little to no contact with Auburn.
This shouldn’t be considered a groundbreaking moment in Marshall’s recruitment, though. He’s firmly committed to Georgia — just as Pappoe is to Auburn — but the initial visit signals a chance for the Tigers that wasn’t there prior to Pappoe’s commitment.
The other visitor, a regular: 5-star lineman Clay Webb.
Webb has been to Auburn twice this spring, but countless times over the years. I continue to believe the Tigers have as much as a chance as Alabama to land him, but this one will go into the fall. Georgia also can’t be ignored here. His relationship with Bulldogs offensive line coach Sam Pittman is too strong to dismiss despite the in-state pull.
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